Not the same old, same old.
The other day, I was talking with one of my colleagues at Fusion about how much things have changed in our industry over the last decade.
We’ve read articles about serious challenges that face the advertising agency and particularly the threat of Google and technology and how clients will be able to do it all themselves, eliminating the middle man.
The word agency essentially means middle man. An ad agency was actually the middle man in the early days when agencies made all of their revenues from media commissions. Advertising agencies began as “agents” of newspaper ad space. They would buy the ads at an agency discount and sell them to the client at the rate card rate.
The US's first ad agency. (interesting story here)
The rise of digital marketing and social media was said to spell the end of the marketing middle man. Now, a company can speak directly to their market, hear what they have to say and promote themselves. They can do their own Google Pay-Per-Click or place their own Facebook ads. They can get their brand’s creative messaging done with crowd-sourcing, or “desktop publish” in-house (another harbinger to the death of the ad agency twenty years ago).
Instead, as the world of advertising changes, it has become incredibly more complex. The number of marketing channel choices has grown faster than anyone could have imagined and it continues to increase daily. Instead of simplifying marketing as was forecast, the digital age has brought waves of new data cascading down on the business. And smart strategies are only made by comprehending all of the data. Decision paralysis ensues.
Larger version here (click on it).
We used to come up with cool ideas with cool design and decide whether television, radio, print or outdoor was best. Standing out was most of the battle.
Equity research firm Pivotal Research Group mentions in a recent overview of ad agencies: "As marketers have come to face more and more choices for their marketing strategies, they increasingly rely upon external and ostensibly neutral partners—such as agencies—to both filter ideas and support the socialization of initiatives or process changes across the broader organization. This factor is the most critical one which explains why agencies face no credible threat of disintermediation from technology-driven marketing or media platforms."
Traditional advertising agencies will die if they don’t change. But I don’t see many businesses, because it is now easier for them, taking on what we do to create a strategy and sell a product. It is much more difficult than it ever was. You need experts in all of the many alternative traditional and digital channels, and experts in messaging within these channels to get heard and be considered. And you can’t crowd-source a penetrating message without a keen analysis of all of the data, without the experts on the hundreds of channel choices and without the experts who know how to work within them.
We are changing all the time. Things are happening so fast that we are doing things here at Fusion that we didn’t do last year and dropping things that we did last year. Change is a great thing. Advertising has become so much more dynamic and exciting. And it has become a true science. I love it.
Love letter to great clients.
We are a lucky bunch over here at Fusion. I truly believe that we are blessed with working with many of Winnipeg’s best clients. The agency/client relationship is a unique relationship, it’s a people-based relationship, not a transactional-based one, emotions, egos and subjectivity come into play. Like any good relationship, for it to last it takes work and needs to build on a solid foundation.
So why do I think we have the best clients?
For starters, there’s a high level of trust with our clients. We’re able to do amazing work, because our clients place high trust in our insights and expertise, knowing that we’re always working in their best interest. Our clients are open to our ideas, even when they push the boundaries.
Our clients see us as partners, not suppliers, working with them, not for them. As partners, our great clients share their visions, dreams, plans, expectations, opinions and goals. They indulge important information, confide in us and consistently keep us in the loop, knowing that this relationship helps them achieve their vision. We collaborate together and share ideas because there’s mutual respect and trust.
The backbone of any strong relationship is communication. Our clients are clear in their expectations, are fair, and ensure we can succeed together. They work through briefs with us, ensuring we’re all on page with agreed upon strategy before the creative process begins. And hey, when the going gets tough, honest conversations happen and only serve to strengthen the product and the relationship.
And finally, our clients rely on us to do our jobs, get the job done, and get it done right. We love being trusted to make sure everything is perfect from start to finish.
The success of the work ultimately depends on the strength of the relationship. And because of the faith and trust our great clients place in us we give the love right back with enthusiasm, passion, creativity, motivation and dedication in our work each and every day.
The Good Old Days
I thought I’d write a little bit on our past in advertising as I happened to mention to some colleagues that I used to have this “luggable” computer and they said “blog material!”. I hate writing this because it shows my age and I always think myself young. In technology, though, everything is old fast.
We were never much the MadMen scenario but we did have drinks at lunch once in a while. We started Fusion after the tail end of that kind of thing…except on trips to other cities with clients. Those were wild and may still be wild. But drinking in the office had become a Friday at 4pm thing, with the norm being one drink. Two for us old-school guys.
Fusion started with no computers in 1992. We always heard that Joe Grande had a Mac and that made us jealous and wanting.
We started with my aforementioned Hyperion dual 5 ¼ inch disk drive “luggable” machine for proposals and letters with the help of an old typewriter. Seems with that kind of past, I would by now be laid out to rest in the ad farm in the sky. But while I haven’t gotten old fast, that thing did.
We got our first Mac around 1993-4 and I think it was a Macintosh IIsi. One Mac for two designers and then two Macs for four designers to share.
Times before computers were fun times. Sort of. All hands-on. Everything hand drawn for mockups. Felt pens, coloured pencils, pastels, Letraset were everywhere. Client revisions were a nightmare to make in order to give them a new proof. Colours could only be shown with Pantone chips.
We often had to work all hours of the day/night to get something done as clients never understood how long these things took so took their time with proofs (and that hasn’t changed much!). We sent out for type galleys and cut rubylith to build a 100 page annual report. It was fun because it was a grind and we were small and did it together and with lots of Bourbon. And me, the business guy, was right in there, sleeves rolled up and cutting ruby and pressing down Letraset.
We ordered type galleys and waited for them to arrive until we had to jump in the car and harass the supplier (DesignType). If the galley didn’t fit, you had to order it again with different specs and go through the same dash to their shop and back. You begged and pleaded to skip the lineup they had and always seemed to owe these guys for all the last-minute favours. Or, if the deadline was very tight, you chopped up the type galley and taped it in pieces where you needed it. And then we worked and worked and worked some more toprovide these fragile things to film companies who shot half-tones or output film for the printer.
The computer killed those companies fairly quickly, but it made us incredibly faster and it has made us all much better designers (after some time period of poor design because you could do all these new and cool things on the computer).
I don’t know what happened to the Hyperion, but I may have left it in its bag in storage in the basement of a hundred and twenty year old building that was our second office. Someone will enjoy that find (but won't know what to do with it).
The Alphabet Car
This relic is a few blocks away from the Fusion office, on the way to a little Bannatyne bakery called Jimel’s and their fabulous chocolate chip cookies.
It made me smile (so did the cookies).
Cooper Black. Not?
Videos for New Products and Services
My newest nerdy interest? Videos promoting products and services. On my last day of television production class this semester, my instructor had us execute a budgeting exercise for a pseudo freelance video project. He got us all amped up (or at least me) about doing freelance video work.
“Just because you’re not media production students, don’t discount the fact that you have skills that most of the population does not have.”
I’m in. Video work can be long and tedious, but it’s pretty fun, and the end result is so satisfying. It’s an area of work I really want to expand my skills in. Not just for products and services-weddings, local shows, events, etc.
As for products and services, if you’ve been online for any length of time, you’ve probably seem them-copious amounts of product or service launch videos. The content of these videos is often a pretty general attempt at building excitement-“This product is amazing! Outstanding results! Coming soon! Be the first!” etc. etc.
Even testimonials from supposed reliable people/sources can seem nothing more than an onscreen performance.
While these types of videos may work on the average gullible or uninformed person, there’s no real substance behind them. At the end of the day, they’re a pretty weak attempt to build excitement about the launch of a product.
You want your product-launch content, in whatever form it takes, to be something meaningful and beneficial to the person receiving it. You want them to be glad they spent their time engaging and being exposed to your message. A video for a product launch should make people feel like you are enlightening them, rather than selling them something. Even if they don’t buy instantaneously, this kind of message will stick in their brain. Building trust and goodwill will significantly increase your chance for conversation, interaction, and an interest in your product or service, from your desired target audience.
Easier said than done, right? Here’s three videos for new products/services I found that I think do a pretty good job.
Tava chair ad
Gap loyalty program
Biogas technology from GE